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Αρχική Σπιναλόνγκα
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The islet of Spinalonga (from Latin spina = thorn and longa = long) is located at the entry of the Elounda bay. Legend has it that the island was named after the renowned lady Longa who lived in the fortress. The island has a surface area of 85 square kilometers and a height of 53 meters, and its Greek name is Kalidonia. In ancient times on this island there was the fortress of the Olounites, which had been built to protect the port of ancient town Olounda (today Elounda). In 1579, the Venetians built a powerful fortress on the ruins of the ancient fortress This fortress was one of the most important fortresses on Crete and was thought to be unconquerable. It stayed under the Venetians even after the Turkish occupation of Crete in 1669. During such period the churches of Aghios Panteleimonas and Aghios Georgios were built there. During the War of Crete (1645-1669), Spinalonga served as a refuge for refugees and rebels, the so called Chainides, who based on the island fought the Turks. Spinalonga was the last part of Crete that the Turks managed to occupy just in 1715. In the first years of Turkish occupation, the fortress was marginalized and used as a place of exile and isolation. However, things changed in the 19th century and the role of the port of Spinalonga was upgraded. A large number of people, mainly merchants and seamen, moved to the island and benefiting from the security offered by the fortress exploited the commercial routes of the East Mediterranean. It is estimated that in 1834, 80 families lived in Spinalonga and in 1881, 227.

The buildings were two-storey houses surrounded by high stone fences and retail stores with large doors. The life in this settlement ended abruptly in the late 19th century due to the rebellion of the Greeks that pushed the Turks out of the island. In 1903, the State of Crete decided that the island would be used to house the lepers of Crete, and at a later time the island became a place of isolation for lepers from throughout Greece. The staff of the Leper Hospital comprised a director, a doctor, nurses, a superintendent, cleaning staff, a financial department and a priest. Patients received some money from the government to enable them to buy the food they needed from some sort of a market that operated daily at the docks. Inhabitants from surrounding areas would go to that market to sell their produce and earn some money to support their families. Any products not sold on a day were considered contaminated and could not be taken back, so each merchant would throw any unsold products in the sea. During this period the economy of the surrounding area was supported by Spinalonga. Patients were housed in the buildings of the Turkish settlement, as well as in modern buildings built in the 30s. Large parts of the Venetian walls were blown up by dynamite in 1939 for the opening of the ring road found today on the islet. The Leper Hospital operated until 1957 . Today visitors can reach Spinalonga by boats leaving from Plaka, a coast settlement. It is considered that this settlement has been built be people in the area after the Leper Hospital was founded, as the beach of Plaka was the point from where the lepers were transported to Spinalonga.